Poorly defined or overly ambitious goals are the number one reason why many of my health coaching clients have not succeeded at making long-term behaviour changes in the past. Over time, poor goal setting can whittle away our confidence, lead to procrastination, self sabotage and ultimately inaction.
I often hear clients tell me they have ‘no willpower’ or are ‘unmotivated’, but really these are indications that their goals or vision are not empowering them effectively.
Becoming a great goal-setter is one of the most important steps in creating a healthy, vibrant and happy life. Here’s some tricks for game-changing goals:
1) Align goals with a powerful vision
The vision is the critical part of our wellness ad happiness journey. Without it, our goals are like boats floating adrift without anchors. The vision is our ‘why’. It is our reason for achieving the things we want to. Most of us are setting goals either in the absence of a powerfully motivating vision, or our goals are not aligned with our vision. A vision could literally be an image that we hold in our mind about what our life looks like when we’re happy and healthy. It could be an image of a perfect day or a snapshot of us running along a beach, doing our dream job or feeling vibrantly alive with energy. Whatever it is, it must evoke a strong feeling of desire in the body. It must be a tremendously motivating image that reveals our greatest potential.
2) Use empowering language
So often, I see goals that are written using aggressive language and unfortunately, this can reflect the manner in which we talk to ourselves internally. Rather than using fixed or static goals like ‘I will run 5km by September’ we can use language that describes the behavior we want to be doing regularly and consistently. For example, ‘in three months I will be moving my body in a way that I enjoy three times per week’. This open-ended, behavioural goal-setting gives us a way of succeeding regardless of how our week has gone. If we are able to move our bodies on two days per week after one month, we can say that we have achieved 70% of our goal.
3) Break them down
Ideally, we’d like to have around three three-monthly goals, and three or four fortnightly goals that are aligned with our vision. They should be behaviours that we can do to move us toward our vision. The key is to break big goals down so we can build confidence to tackle bigger challenges. As soon as we don’t achieve a goal, we can use it as evidence to reinforce limiting beliefs like ‘I’ll never lose weight’, or ‘I’m not good enough’. Setting small, behavioural goals guarantees success and helps us moving forward. An example of a fortnightly goal might be ‘in two weeks I’ll be drinking a glass of water on rising every morning’. Fortnightly goals can also be research-related goals like ‘I will be informed about yoga classes in my area’. These are great little steps that can help us move forward and get the satisfaction of ticking something off our list.
4) Reflect and refine
at the end of every two week and three-month period we have a beautiful opportunity to look back and ask ourselves what worked and what didn’t work. What did we learn? What obstacles did we encounter? What did we use to overcome them? Were our goals too big, too small or not aligned with our vision? Showing ourselves compassion, nurturing a spirit of self-care and looking at the positives rather than the negatives can be transformative for our self esteem and sense of self worth.
Before launching into your next life or health overhaul, take some time to set stellar goals and reap the benefits of perfectly aligned vision, goals and behaviours.